Headspace by Greg Bray

Thoughts and observations of an often displaced Aussie, working to rid the professional world of paper - one page at a time - visit me at OzDox.com.au

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Technology Support In The Office - A Cost of Being In Business

I was on a telephone call last month with a firm's technology committee, discussing their exorbitant IT costs over the proceeding 12 months, when the simple question was raised, "How much should we expect to pay for information technology support"?

Obviously, the answer is going to be based on many factors - the level of sophistication of hardware and software in the office, age of equipment, the technical aptitude of each user, etc.

This particular firm employs 17 lawyers, with a total work force of 28, and last fiscal year had paid their outsourced IT company ~$27k to support their infrastructure (note that we are not discussing hardware or software purchases, just support for their existing systems).

I'm sure the committee wanted me to tell them that they were spending excessively...as judged by the silence I was met with when I told them that they were getting and absolute bargain!

You see, one of the pleasures of my job is that I get to visit with a large number of firms, of varying sizes and types. One observation is universally true - there is always some level of frustration with technology in every office. Most firms with over 20 staff have a dedicated IT support person - and add an extra support person every 20 additional users. Anything less, and that level of frustration in the office grows exponentially, as does the under-use and waste of existing technology investments.

As many firms have found out, the turnover for IT support staff is very high, and so to keep some continuity in the IT support area, most turn to outside IT companies to provide them with support.

Annual remuneration for good quality outsourced support will generally be in line with the equivalent salary costs of in-house support, with the benefit that you are typically dealing with a company that has experts in many different areas to assist you (networking, internet access, workstation support, legal software, remote access). This also gives you the "One Throat To Choke" efficiency when things wrong.

Based on this model, the aforementioned firm should be budgeting on $50k - $75k per annum just for technical support, and that does not include purchases!

The productivity that modern technology offers just the average small firm these days would have been unimaginable just 20 years ago....and gives the firm the opportunity to "punch well above it's weight class".

As for the different types of support models, I'll leave that for another day.


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